Thursday, August 25, 2011

Save Me From Tomorrow: In Pictures

“The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed”—Hitler's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels


scottsz said...

I'm still lost as to how we went from a really nice interview over at Hill Cantons to here...

The Angry Lurker said...


Rob Kuntz said...

Note my tone is even and amused, the latter not by your question, but just for having to think it over again.

Well, Scott: Hmm. My guess? And it is a guess, as I only have what was done and "said" to go by. It has to do with presuming everyone will agree with someone else and when that does't happen, throwing a fit, at me, and at Tineshadows? Perhaps? I am as much shocked by such such behavior as TS was for having to sustain a smaller part of it. That's if one follows the electronic paper trail in the matter to secure the minute details as these unfold, probably not worth doing at this point, but if you want the online truth that's all that exists.

My answer now is only as it was exposed before: I stated a position, noted a defect, and did so with a Rogerian Argument. In return for logic and reason, both myself and Timeshadows were slighted and insulted, and the questions I posed still remain unanswered. I can deal with insults and being ignored, and I have sustained both many times in my life, and online (where they become their weakest), But I will not abide yellow journalism. One does not have to stand upon their own ground by trying to use the supposed carcass of another to do so, as in:"Holier than thou and tongue-clacking."

I do hope you are asking the counterpart in this matter that question as well, and do source TS for her views on why she had to sustain such ire. And along the way, perhaps query Grendlewulf, who thought my arguments were valid and was open for discussion on the matter.

Outside of that I have no clue. And it does not relate to the interview at all, as I had four online sources wanting to interview me, it just ended up there. That has no relation at all to the current subject which I hold dear to my heart, and have held so since the very beginning when I walked out of TSR many moons ago.

Thanks for the question, and in the immortal words of my most erratic player BitD, Bob Burman: "Keep on Going!"

Rob Kuntz said...

@ TAL: Baaaa, indeed...

Anonymous said...

@scottsz: I liked the idea of teh GM challenge. Rob gave us some moral points to consider, i.e.:

Conclusion: We are dealing with unique individuals; they are not plug-and-play objects easily fitted one after the other into categories no matter what we think is true, or is the "norm," amongst ourselves. We owe it to newcomers and ourselves to be cautious and concerned in the matter of teaching and its methods.

I see nothing wrong in considering such thoughts. I find myself sometimes taking some things for granted when expressing myself. Not everyone can read my mind (thank goodness!), and I certainly should not expect everyone to think like me (nothing would ever get done!).

It never hurts to look at the bigger picture, although sometimes your neck may get a bit stiff. Such is the price of wisdom. :)

@LotGD: Nice selection. Too many of them remind me of my workplace sometimes. I almost used the classic Frankenstein pic for my GM post, but had to go with the Gene Wilder version.

Rob Kuntz said...

The following links go far in continuing to note apparent reasons why a Teacher Centered approach rather than a Student Centered approach (synopsized in my three concluding points in "Emile and Event Streams...") is not as fruitful for understanding one's own creative range and in fostering the learning lessons needed to improve upon it. In these examples we see a student earned approach styling the matter 100%, and as I suggested this be done in my past commentaries; and we have the author's continuing POV which mirror the reasons why he is now in touch with his creation on al levels and understands it better than anyone. I wonder how long he has been creating his world and ancillary material? Good read:

I will add that this is what the Masters did, such as myself, Arneson, Gygax, Barker, Mornard, Lakofka, Mentzer, Greenwood and I include therein Kyrinn Eis from a top down perspective alongside me and Barker (though Mr. Barker takes the prize for top down and there are few today who could challenge him just as there are few who could challenge LotR and its supportive/ancillary materials ). An not to forget thousands of DMS that trail-blazed D&D's/RPG's permeable territory 1972-1978 when there were few pre-made adventures, settings, source books and when all this matter had to be constructed by them (read A & E that Gygax and Holmes and others contributed to for snapshots of this time period). Of course there were suggestions flying about then, but no one was stating absolutes, which "Building a "Better" GM seems to claim right in the title. And I can assure you that all of the above designers did it their way.

Fate accompli. I am now going to write a series of articles on this very subject and henceforth am a sworn enemy of the "just add water and stir method" which by comparison is also crumbling in our educational systems under a push to get a more granular approach to learning instituted.

Anonymous said...

Call me Ilyich.

I didn't take "Building a "Better" GM" as such an absolute. Someone can say they're building a better mouse trap, it doesn't mean it will be better to everyone. It's all a matter of perspective.

Perhaps it's a failing of mine lately. I don't place as much emphasis on words as I used to because it seems words just aren't as strong as they once were. They don't seem to mean what they should and people jumble them together in all the wrong ways to mean other things they'd rather be saying.

Maybe the Bond Principle can be applied, "Shaken, not stirred". Rather that way out of their complacency than swirling around in dizzy circles. And that goes for our educational systems as well.

One must teach without teaching so they may learn by doing.

Rob Kuntz said...


OK: Here;s my problem with it, and not just with the title, which remains, but with the whole concept as a shot-gun blast effect: It does not address newcomers. Repeat, does not address newcomers.

So, you are seeing this from the point of an understood (a veteran) whereas I ask you and others to re-orient on what that means, "Newcomers," and in the many contexts it can be applied. Let's examine a few instances, and I will cover this more in depth in the proposed articles.

1) This pdf will be available online to everyone, including newcomers. That can mean any one person incluidng one who just picked up a game/clone/whatever and is casting about finding his/her way through it.

2) Now, they find this document that has a suggestive title. They download and read it. What IYO is the possibility of retention factor<>confusion factor to such a newcomer? We don;t know, do we? In fact, there is no measurement at all in this method under such a situation--it's not only throwing shit at the wall with the hope it sticks, but then not hanging around long enough to see if it does and what that may mean. It is outright ignoring consequences.

3) This is why I was aiming at a mediated view by asking the questions and that is why I suggested the 3 ending points which address this in whole. Otherwise I see this as putting the cart before the horse, potentially highly confusing and misleading for newcomers.

4) My suggestion (the "3") provides for measurable results and the smooth transition of learning in a non-assumptive, student-centered game environment.

Hope this answers.

Rob Kuntz said...

"One must teach without teaching so they may learn by doing.

GW: Almost forgot, but that is the size of it and very well said.

It's the same way in sales. You are taught to sell by getting the customer to believe that they are "buying" for if they smell a "sale" brewing they become resistant. Joe Girard school of sales which I studied under for 12 years.

It's similar in education, and if one follows the route of Student Centered teaching it is where the concept you extoll fully flourishes. However, I would wager that most people who are DMs these days were educated in a Teacher Centered environments and thus emulate that path in information>transfer> effect while "teaching" the game. This is a poor substitute for a creative learning path that will differ for every individual that is best served, instead, as you suggest.

For more on this read Carl Rogers and the Russian philosopher Vgotsky.

ERIC! said...

Eric here,
Ganth was a process that began long before I even named my setting. As a kid just learning the game 30+ years ago I didn't have the money to buy Modules, and campaign settings. As a matter of fact all I owned at the time I first began running my own game was the old Red Box with he Erol Otus art on the cover.

So taking ideas from books I was reading at the time like, C.S. Lewis and Elric I began developing my own adventures and worlds.

Ganth was shaped from those early years, and as the System changed and my reading broadened so did Ganth. Towards the end of 2e life I had shaped Ganth into what it looks most like today.

Sad thing is 3e nearly killed Ganth, not to start an edition war but 3e stole from me alot of creativity. It made me lazy and Ganth suffered. It was easy for me to just pick up one of the pre made worlds and run with it.

At the appearance of 4e I was already very disenchanted with D&D as a hole and if not for discovering Grognardia's articles on Dwimmermount I probably would have quit gaming all together. The OSR reminded me of my 1st Love...Ganth and so Ganth has been limping back. Tempered by its time in the grave I have brought it home to the system it was born from. And truly I am happier for that.

Ganth will never stop growing or changing, but that's why I love it, I get to shape it as I feel it needs to be. I will never publish it, I have an aversion to seeing it abused like so many other published settings. Ganth is solely my own and while I encourage input by players, because I think that helps the world feel alive, I have the final say in its direction.


Rob Kuntz said...


This is fascinating! I have a great interest in those who, for whatever reasons, depart on their own paths and create their own visions.

Would you mind a few follow up questions? Just to dig a little more beneath the surface of what you just expressed.

1) "3e stole a lot of creativity..." and no, we are not fostering an "Editions War" with this, but merely examining what was in fact a truth as you felt it. Why do you feel that way? What exactly in your estimation contributed to that effect and feeling?

2) It's interesting that you say that you will never publish Ganth, as this is the way I have always felt about my own World of Kalibruhn (created starting 1973). Is this like artistic choice, kinda like not wanting something so pure, like one with a young child perhaps, to be misinterpreted or abused by releasing it into life? Or other reasons? It is the artist's privilege in choosing to do so or not as they create the art, I am just wondering about the deep down reasons if there are any.

Thanks for posting and I look forward to your responses if you choose to answer!--RJK

ERIC! said...


3.X was a great system I jumped on board as quick as I could and bought as many of the splatbooks as I could. The OGL was even better and it gave my running crew heady dreams of producing our own campaign setting. Even all the way up to Paizo's Pathfinder I had tossed around the idea of publishing, something, maybe even Ganth.

Besides the issues I had with trying to work out a unified setting with a bunch of guys that had their own wants and desires, I feel 3.X did not lend itself to the creative side of a person. It does its best at covering all the angles both as a rule set and a creation tool.

Look some folks see that as a plus, but when you have a 20 year old campaign setting staring at you, converting it to the Rules bloated 3.X was a mountain I was unwilling to climb.

It became easy just to pick up WotC's Forgotten Realms and run with it. Ganth lingered in my subconcious and would come foward was in a while in a adventure in the Realms but the task of wading through the literal hundreds of WotC splatbooks and thrid party splatbooks tired me out.

3.X gave alot of power to the player, it shoveled on skills and feats, new races and classes at every newly released splatbook, how was I suppose to keep up?

It was to much to consider, to much to think about and to time consuming to work with. The Spatbooks covered anything that I could possibly create myself. I didn't even need to be creative anymore.

Now understand, I still ran my own adventures, I still don't buy modules, but I tended to cheat my players by just making up NPC stats on the spot and winging it when I could. I didn't have time to build a 14th level Were Wolf Mage. I also would ignore rules, more of the rules that required some of the tactical aspects of the game. I dont like minis and truthfully I could count on my hand the number of times I have used them. Hell's Bells my 6 and 7 year old children dont need them.

So at the core, Rule Bloat and the enourmous splatbook resources killed Ganth. It made me lazy. And emptied my wallet.

All in all this of course is pure opinion.


Ganth is mine, period. I don't want people killing off Ebon Greeneyes, Mongoose Half-Hand or Glithus Newt. They are dear to me and characters I love. One character was created by a good friend the other by my own brother, the last was my own.

When we played Forgotten Realms we removed elements of the setting we didn't like, Mr. Greenwood would not recognize his Realms if he sat in one of our Realms games.

That is what I do not want for Ganth. I don't want folks to guess at its deep meanings or fuss about its poor choice of names. I don't want it's nations divided up or ransacked by piss poor roleplayers.

I have though choosen to share Ganth and its rebirth with the blogging community, and I am aware that it could be stolen from me but like I have mentioned, it was Grognardia's Dwimmermont that inspired me to pick up Ganth again, and hopefully Ganth can inspire others.

Our community here in the OSR and even RPG's at large is small enough that if one was to rip off Ganth letter by letter it would become quickly obvious.

So I really can't say i'm trying to protect Ganth as if it was some child. But I have always had a problem selling something I poor myself into. I am a bit of an artist, not professional in the least but I know how to draw. As such I put alot of work in it, and would rather give it away than sell it to anyone.

It means more to me that my art is given as a gift without
compensation. Than to be sold on a market.

I don't have to appease a customer, or change things in Ganth to make them acceptable. I can keep elements of Christian Allegory or political satire without fear on losing a publisher or advertiser. I can keep Demons as Demons and not change their name to appease an imagined threat to a child.

Ugh, Long post...hopefully that answered some questions. All in all once again this is my opinion.


redbeard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Kuntz said...

Hello Red.

Actually my first commentary was first started at the original HC post :within the call for submissions and the guidelines article there; the main of it was answered while posing moral and creative-learning path questions in "Emile & Event Streams...." post, below, and more is added in the commentary of this post. So there are three separated instances of exchange and points therein.

What I am going to do is synthesize these three parts
and narrow it down; though the main are 2 points contained in the latter two streams, which essentially point to newcomers as a whole and how we have an obligation to teach them as we learned ourselves rather than assuming that one size fits all. The difference I will expose points directly to the fact that each GM contributing to this arrived at their own deductions based upon SINGULAR learning paths which became VALUE ADDED EXPERIENCES for them; the main point is not to cut that same process out of the learning path for others who are progressing in the gaming atmosphere. Each individual is unique and thus their interests and creative thrusts will naturally expand or contract according to a personally defined process made known in interchange during game, pre-game and post game conditions.

I wil argue in the articles that newcomers could be potentially side-tracked from the same natural course that these contributing GMs took at arriving at their our individual outlooks by noting the confusion factor in using shot-gun blasts of information, as imbedded assumptions that creative processes otherwise, and on all primary levels, instead defines by itself in guided play.

Thanks for asking and I will be posting the articles in the future, but want to get them ordered as a series, first.

Rob Kuntz said...

Red: Sorry for the second to last sentence, as it lacks agreement, so instead "that a creative process..."

Rob Kuntz said...

Hmm. It seems that Red deleted his original question. Have fun amigo!

Rob Kuntz said...

Thanks, Eric!

"t was to much to consider, to much to think about and to time consuming to work with. The Spatbooks covered anything that I could possibly create myself. I didn't even need to be creative anymore."

Very powerful. Why be creative when we can do all the thinking required to create for you. eh? I agree totally and without pause. Creation = sustained growth and such positive growth always contributes to well being and happiness.

When you pay money, "empty your wallet," you have the right to have strong opinions about the object(s) you purchase. This keeps the supplier informed, as well, of your view and what that might mean for their future products by relation.

"It means more to me that my art is given as a gift without compensation. Than to be sold on a market."

Ah, the true amateur (amateur means: "one who does it for the love of it"). I myself am an amateur at heart who was forced due to circumstances to start making a career out of my work as I found myself outside looking in as opposed to, at first, the opposite. I get exactly what you are expressing here.

All of your points are beautiful for the very essence of life and humanity that they contain. Thanks again, Eric, and I hope you do not mind if in the future, perhaps at your blog, that I stop in now and then to say hello.

Best Wishes--Rob

Montgomery Mullen said...

Hi there.

I was just panning through the blog, catching up a bit, and I found the prior comment about 3.X killing creativity to be interesting to me. I thought I might add a different point of view and some observations that people may find enlightening.

Or at least, one can hope.

First off, a little bit of background: I've been playing DnD since 1st edition, both the Advanced and Basic stuff. I've been gaming for a long time, and I was always a dedicated homebrewer when it came to settings. When 3rd edition came out, I was pretty ambivalent about it but I hopped on and gave it a go. It worked all right.

I have two assertions: the first is that you should never let the system bog down the story. The second is contradictory, in that I believe most people do not pay attention to how much the system you use will change the 'feel' of your story.

When I started working with 3rded, I didn't modify my setting at all. I basically beat 3rded into shapes that 'felt' right in my game. If the material was already there, fantastic. If it wasn't, I made it up. It turns out that if you strip mechanics down to nothing but numbers, you can make those numbers represent anything you want.

That said, I did freelance design for a few d20 lines, and that really exposed me to the parts of 3.X which WERE, to me, creativity-killing. Most of those had little to do with the system itself and far more to do with the social expectations and perceptions of that system. That's a whole other can of purple worms, though. I'll leave it at this: I missed the days of freewheeling creation that I remember from pre-3.0 times.

Like the prior poster, I have no intention of selling my homebrew setting. When I entered the WotC setting search competition, I cooked up a setting on demand for it (and did very well, I don't mind saying!) but I specifically did not want to cede creative control over my work. I honor any artist who sticks to that, but the industry has little mercy for the creative these days.

There's a lot on this blog that catches my eye, so I imagine I'll be commenting further. I look forward to occasionally chatting y'all up.


Rob Kuntz said...

"I specifically did not want to cede creative control over my work. I honor any artist who sticks to that, but the industry has little mercy for the creative these days."

MM: Spot on.

The best advice to those not seeking to just get their name carved into a rash of products which only further "sameness." Take a lesson from The pre 1970 board wargame designers, folks. When faced with Midway (the game) they didn't say, hey that's cool, I can make a Midway, too! And even if some did, the newer design radically departed from the previous form inspiring it and therefore stood on its own by relation. This is the difference between true game designers and those who imitate design and then call these innovative or fresh.

Montgomery Mullen said...

I hadn't considered the pre-1970 wargamer crowd in that light before, but the mere fact of it lights bulbs in my head. Boardgames are, even now, a flagship of innovation for gaming in general. I think it is largely because the production of boardgames tends to be less expensive on the whole than book-based gaming. Further, board games are self-sufficient and not as complex as book games. Therefore, people are more inclined to purchase new board games and take chances on them than book games. Book games... well, you buy the basic rules and then, if you want, you don't need anything else to branch off into whatever territory you like for as long as you like.

I would concur with your comment regarding true designers, though I can see some merit in taking up an old saw and retooling it in a new direction or revitalizing it with a new sheen. Speaking of which, I'm finishing up a tribute module for you, and I'd hoped to send you a pdf when it is done... if you don't mind, of course! It's just me paying credit where it is due, in my mind.

Rob Kuntz said...

Cheers Montgomery--

"I think it is largely because the production of boardgames tends to be less expensive on the whole than book-based gaming."

The opposite is generally true. Especially with German bg companies and their ultra-quality components; but this pretty much holds true even for North American mfgs.. Boards, boxes, cards, pieces, rule books, die-cutting, the list goes on to drive up cost. A single book has by relation art and layout costs of a different nature/type, and even small book publishers (soft bound) can leverage a competitive POD structure that BG companies cannot. In order to drive down enormous costs per unit they have to print higher unit runs and actively promote advance sales.

"...board games are self-sufficient and not as complex as book games."

Maybe, maybe not. Monopoly is not as demanding as D&D, but it has its own set of complexities. Then too, Drang Nach Osten with several thousand unit counters and commanding the attention of its multi-tiered rules and constantly shifting tactical situations leaves complexity of even the most challenging RPG in the dust. There is a different level and intensity involved with playing the more complex board games, just as it is true for the more demanding RPGs. Even distilled variations of a DNO-type require a tuning in on another frequency, especially if these require a steady use of ever changing tactics and strategies.

Hmm. Tribute module. I'm really bad at that kinda stuff. My ex-GFs embarrassed me in bookstores by taking my authored titles on the shelf to the managers and stating that the writer was present, and all that. I don't wish to discourage you nor to
make light of the sincere compliment as intended, so go ahead... I will take partial credit where it is due if I have indeed inspired someone or changed their lives for the better. That's the whole point in my life--the whole point about this blog, in fact.

I would be interested in reading the work when it's finished, of course. I will send you an email so you know were to send it.--regards RJK

Rob Kuntz said...


Oops. You have no Blogger email, and I do not give mine out on the Net. As a work around mail my partner in game design "crime," Timeshadows:

Include a note describing our converse and to forward on the pdf to me.


Montgomery Mullen said...

My email notifies me of a quick reply!

And I find that I am humbled by my lack of experience in the boardgame industry. With perhaps a bit more forethought and a little less impulsiveness in speculation, I might have sounded just a touch more educated in that last reply!

Regardless, your observations are sharp and thought-provoking, and I am now re-examining some of the assumptions I have made about the industry in general. It's the little things.

Re: the tribute mod. It's only purpose is as a tribute mod. I have absolutely no intention of marketing it anywhere, nor pointing any more of a finger than you would at it. It is solely intended as a return of inspiration, because your work has been an essential inspiration of my own for a very long time now. It is long past time that I pay the piper his due, as it were. You can do whatever you like with the thing when I send it; all I ask is that my authorship is acknowledged and that (possibly!) you might give it a spin in your own gaming group.

Thank you kindly for the email addy; not sure what's going on with my blogger email, but I apologize for the inconvenience. I'll be in touch!


Rob Kuntz said...


All's well that ends well. A solid, standby saying, that.

I learned in the trenches of bg publishing and on many levels: playing, play-testing, developing, production tracking and design. My secret love is boardgames and designing them (don't tell anyone, heh!) Besides the four that i designed or co-designed for different venues I have at least (at a guess) six more in different stages of development and am currently working on two additional. RPG adventure/source book design doesn't interest me that much anymore. Been there, done that, so to speak. ;) It's no longer challenging, unless I were to create a whole new RPG. I considered doing this at one time, but I made my SAN check and resisted going that route. ;)

BG design is definitely an area where one can really learn unerring game design, that is, the difference between on-the-nose game design as opposed to the layer-cake process of rules design--two different beasts. Once you master closed/finite systems in either bg or miniatures rules design, the path in RPG design becomes that much easier. At least in my experience that has been true.

I look forward to your module for recreational reading only. I wish you luck with it; and may the "pen" flow in tune with the mind directing it! :)


Mark A. Siefert said...

Were there ever any stars in the sky
and did sun ever shined so bright?
Do you have any dreams in can borrow
just to get me through the lonely nights?

Is there anything left to hold onto
when the river's washed it all away?
Is there anyone left to hold on to?
Is there anything left I can save?

Say a prayer for the falling angels.
Stem the tide on the rising waters.
Toll a bell for the broken hearted.
Burn a torch for your sons and daughters.

Then endless night has got a hold of me.
Dark days are pulling me forward.
And all these years are washing over me
And I'm crying-I'm lost forever
In a future that ain't what it used to be.
A future that ain't what it used to be.
A future that ain't what it used to be no more

"The Future Ain't What It Used To Be"
--Jim Steinman

Rob Kuntz said...

Yeh, isn't that the truth. Kinda like, in reverse, the scene in Soylent Green where Heston watches on-screen images from Earth's long dead past.

Montgomery Mullen said...

Done. Will run one more brisk edit when I've rested my eyes, and will send the whole of it tomorrow (today?) as requested. I hope you enjoy it. I decided to be old school and hand-draw the maps.